UPTAKE for HIV testing services among Chegutu farmers and artisanal miners has improved over the years owing to moonlight testing services supported by the The International Training and Education Center for Health (I-TECH), HealthTimes has learnt.
By Kudakwashe Pembere
In an much as the gold mining activities could be bettering lives of many economically, the impact it has on HIV treatment especially for young adolescent boys who are supposed to be on treatment is undesirable.
I-Tech Mashonaland West Provincial Focal person Mr Oliver Muzaba says Chegutu being a farming and mining community, majority of men mostly young adults are artisanal miners largely mobile and reaching them at times could be difficult.
“These young people are always chasing for gold, moving where the money is. So we have outreach programs where we target these men and their reception for HIV testing services is encouraging.
“We also do moonlight testing going at places they hang out such as bars and workplace such as mines and do the testing at night,” said Mr Muzaba.
Mr Muzaba said they were also doing community targeted HIV testing where they target even families of these artisanal miners and other community members.
“We have HIV SELF tests through giving their spouses the kits to distribute to them especially those who test HIV positive. There are also community ART initiation during outreaches as well as enrolling those on ART on Direct service Delivery Models especially Community ART Refill Groups and Fast track model,” he said.
“We also do Index case testing where people who test positive are asked to provide their network of sexual partners, or siblings for testing.”
He said they have come up with a differentiated service model realising various clients on ART are unique.
“So we try by all means to find a model which suits a client depending on the geographical location. For example clients which are stable and virally suppressed, and adhere to treatment, we give them options out of the five models that we have.
“The first model most unique to Chegutu is fast track. We prescribe our clients medication for a period of six to nine months. The nurses update all the registers but however they are supplied three monthly ART supply. They will not be meeting the nurses. They just come for a few minutes. They then come after every three months. Once in a year, they should come for the viral load. This method is more tolerant to the clients because it reduces time spent at a facility,” he said.
Mr Muzaba added that they also have Community Art Refill Groups popular among rural folks.
“The other method more acceptable in rural communities is the CARG. Members choose amongst themselves. They might be between eight and 15 members in the group. We use the same criteria as that of fast track as we want people with viral suppression, adherent.
“They form a group and come to the facility where they are screened for other problems. In the group, one client comes here to collect the drug. Once a year, they should come as a group for viral load,” he said.